Stormwater Education

What is Stormwater?

Stormwater and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II

Stormwater discharges are generated by runoff from land and impervious areas such as paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops during rainfall and snow events that often contain pollutants in quantities that could adversely affect water quality. Most stormwater discharges are considered point sources and require coverage by a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The primary method to control stormwater discharges is through the use of best management practices (BMPs).

Under the NPDES General Permit for Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4), most communities are required to submit Phase II stormwater management programs to detail how each individual community will comply with the Phase II mandates. These regulations require designated communities to develop and implement a storm water management plan. This program is composed of six minimum control measures:

1. Public Education
2. Public Involvement
3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
4. Construction Site Runoff Control
5. Post Construction Site Runoff Control
6. Good Housekeeping

Where does our water go? All of the water we use inside our home goes directly to the sewer system to a treatment plant where it is cleaned and released back into our steams and rivers cleaner than when it started.

How about the water from our yards, driveways, roads, ditches and parking lots? Where does this water go? It is not always easy to see after it goes down the drain, but often the rain water that falls in our yard overflows into a stream before it can be cleaned.

Rain water picks up trash and pollution—including oil and antifreeze drips from our driveway, excess fertilizer from our yards, and litter and dog waste. Once it is picked up by the rain, it moves through ditches, street gutters, and pipes to our streams, rivers, and lakes where it can cause health and safety problems for us and our children.

Because we live near Lake Erie most of our water in Northeast Ohio flows from our streams to the Lake. When you live near a stream, what you do in your yard affects the health of fish and wildlife in your stream. It also affects the health of the Lake and your safety when you visit the beach.

What can we do to keep our streams and Lake Erie healthy and safe for our use? Keep the pollutants out of rain water.

Check out the all the ways you can keep your water clean, fix drainage problems, and save money from the information below:

Stormwater Pledges

Pledge allegiance to the environment! Click here to take one or all of our stormwater and watershed pledges.

Stormwater Articles

Stormwater Posters

Stormwater Brochures

Keep Your Yard Green & Our Waters Clean - monthly conservation tips

Stormwater Banners

In 2011, the Northeast Ohio Public Involvement Public Education (NEO PIPE) workgroup received a grant from the Ohio Environmental Education Fund (OEEF) to create a series of banners and an accompanying brochure. The banners and brochure are used at events, presentations and workshops to educate the public about storm water pollution and solutions. These banners may be borrowed from the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District for education purposes.

Stormwater Events - click here

Stormwater Blog - click here

Stormwater Webinar(s)

Stormwater Technical Tips

1st Quarter 2016 - Construction Process

2nd Quarter 2016 - Working in and around Jurisdictional Water

3rd Quarter 2016 - What should you know about concrete?

4th Quarter 2016 - SWP3 Implementation in Sub-divisions

Stormwater Themes

Each year the Northeast Ohio Public Involvement Public Education (NEO PIPE) committee creates a theme for Soil & Water Conservation Districts across Northeast Ohio to guide their efforts. This creates a unified message across the region.

2019 - Reduce Runoff - Slow It Down, Spread It Out, Soak It In
Increased stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces and lawns negatively impacts water quality and aquatic habitat in our local waterways and Lake Erie. Implementing small-scale stormwater management practices such as rain gardens, rain barrels, trees, improved soil health and impervious surface/turf reduction help the built environment to better mimic the way water flows through the natural environment, reducing negative impacts to water quality.

2018 - On the Road to Clean Water

Everyone lives in a watershed, and in Cuyahoga County everyone lives in the Lake Erie watershed. Because of this watershed connection, our activities on and around our roadways – from how we maintain our cars and boats, to how we keep paved surfaces safe in winter - directly impact our local waterways and Lake Erie.

2017 - Lake Erie: Don't Waste It
Everyone lives in a watershed, and in Cuyahoga County everyone lives in the Lake Erie watershed. Because of this watershed connection, our activities at home, at school at work and throughout the community directly impact not only Lake Erie, but also our local waterways. Promotes the reduction of stormwater pollution from pet waste, human waste (HSTS/Illicit Discharge), household hazardous waste, yard waste and commercial waste (e.g., restaurant grease).

2016 - Lake Erie Starts Here!

Everyone lives in a watershed, and in Cuyahoga County everyone lives in the Lake Erie watershed. Because of this watershed connection, our activities at home, at school at work and throughout the community directly impact not only Lake Erie, but also our local waterways. Outreach and involvement activities will identify this connection and provide recommendations and opportunities to make a positive watershed impact to various target audiences.

2015 - Honey, I Shrunk the Lawn!
In urban and suburban areas, lawns can be a significant contributor to nonpoint source pollution. Compacted soils, short-rooted turf grass and excessive use of fertilizers and other lawn care chemicals cause lawns to generate increased amounts of runoff, nutrients, pesticides and herbicides, all of which negatively impact the health of aquatic systems. By replacing portions of turfed, traditionally managed lawn area with native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and/or grasses, the negative impact of lawns on water quality is also reduced. Likewise, simple changes in lawn management practices can reduce the pollution contribution from lawns.

2014 - Keep Your Yard Green and Our Waters Clean
Many homeowners strive for the idealized lush, green lawn. However, this perfect lawn is often achieved at the expense of water quality. It doesn't have to be that way. Small changes in lawn care routines and landscaping practices can reduce pollution in local streams and Lake Erie while maintaining healthy lawns.

2013 - Taking Root for Clean Water: The Importance of Trees and Native Plants
From their rain-intercepting canopies to their soil-stabilizing roots, trees naturally manage storm water and protect water quality. Strategically inserting trees and other deep-rooted native plants into the landscape reduces polluted stormwater runoff, enhances habitat for birds and pollinators and restores degraded urban and suburban soil systems.

2012 - Household Habits for Healthy Waters
Clean stormwater starts at home, and everyone can do something to prevent stormwater pollution. Landscaping practices such as rain barrels and rain gardens, choosing friendly household products and proper pet waste management can help our watersheds be healthier and cleaner.

2011 - Steer Clear of Pollutants
Illicit discharges to the community storm sewer system and drainage network convey pollutants such as oil, gas and other automotive fluids, soapy water and undertreated sewage directly to local rivers and lakes.

2010 - Headwater Streets - Mimicking the Functions of Headwater Streams and Wetlands - Where Rivers Begin - in the Developed Community.

2009 - Low Impact Development
Low Impact Development comprises a set of site design approaches and small-scale stormwater management practices that are designed to reduce runoff and associated pollutants from the site at which they are generated.

2008 - Going Green One Yard at a Time
Reducing stormwater impact from residential properties.

For additional information on storm water issues, visit the Green City Blue Lake website.

For more specific information, click on the following topics:
Healthy Yard, Clean Water
Backyard Streams
Good Housekeeping
Native Plants and Organic Lawncare